Personal Values: Prosocial Behavior

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Introduction: As humans we’d like to believe that we will be ready to act according to our values regardless of the situation in which/where we find ourselves in. When considering prosocial behavior, however, research suggests this not to be fully true. Since prosocial behavior is intended to benefit others without having set laws regulating it, it can be influenced by many situational and dispositional factors (Eisenberg, Fabes & Spinard, 2006; Paciello, Fida, Cerniglia, Tramontano & Cole 2013b; Boer & Fischer, 2013; Tyler, Orwin & Schurer, 1982; Pallida-Walker & Fraser, 2014; Simpson & Willer, 2008; Zanon, Novembre, Zagrando, Chittaro & Silani, 2014). Therefore, prosocial behavior is multifaceted and dynamic, as it comprises a multitude…show more content…
Although researchers do not agree on whether personal values transcend specific situations or not (Paciello et al., 2013a; Simpson & Willer, 2008; Darley & Batson, 1973), most researchers, however, agree that personal values are motive determinants of behavior (Paciello et al., 2013b; Paciello et al., 2013a). Personal values are acquired through individual development and provide a framework of general criteria used to evaluate a specific situation and act accordingly (Boer & Fischer, 2013; Paciello et al., 2013a). This evaluation is driven by our desire to behave consistently with our personal values (Bandura Barbaranelli, Caprara & Pastorelli, 1996). Consequently, this desire for consistency underlies the link between personal values and moral agency (Bandura et al., 1996; Hardy et al. 2015 ). Not all personal values, however, drive us to act prosocially. Based on Schwartz’s (2010) research on personal values, Paciello et al. (2013a) identified two main sets of opposite personal values related to engagement in prosocial behavior, namely self-transcendent and self-enhancement ones. While self-transcendent values are characterized by praising welfare and acceptance, and as such are positively correlated with propensity to help, self-enhancement ones are correlated to seeking power and achievement, and therefore are negatively correlated to helping behavior (Schwartz, 2010; Paciello et al., 2013a; Boer & Fischer, 2013). However, through correlational analysis of questionnaires measuring values, propensity to help and prosocial moral reasoning, Paciello et al. (2013a) found that self-transcendent values are prone to being influenced by the situation. For example, Paciello et al., (2013a) found that self-transcendent values are more likely to temper self-interest and elicit

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